October 27, 2008 | last updated March 28, 2012 9:53 am

High Atop An Electronic Empire

Photo/Ron Bouley
Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and co-founder of Westborough-based eClinicalWorks, which has had 36 profitable quarters.

It's been relentless.

Since launching nine years ago, Westborough-based eClinicalWorks has experienced continuous and furious growth. It's enjoyed 36 profitable quarters and cultivated its staff from an initial skeleton crew to a force of more than 700. As time goes on, there's no drag on that momentum: Over the past three years, the company has added more than 300 employees and grown by 255 percent.

Impressive as all this may be, though, CEO and co-founder Girish Kumar Navani says there's no magical formula: The medical records software company's seemingly ceaseless success comes from a reliable product, unflagging customer service and conservative business practices.

"We're agile and focused," said Navani. "We never look back at what we accomplished. We always look forward to where we want to go."

Its five founders — which Navani describes as working symbiotically like the fingers of a hand — started out of the gate in 1999 with that driven, no dilly-dallying philosophy. Back then, they had one goal: To develop a unique medical records software program. That system, which is now on its eighth version, assists outpatient offices of all sizes with scheduling, billing, prescription writing and patient record keeping.

Today, more than 20,000 physicians use it.

Further engendering growth, the company has established offices in New York and Georgia and has wrangled several large regional deals. Among those are a $19 million, 1,300 physician contract in New York City and a pilot program with Blue Cross Blue Shield to automate several hundred practices in Newburyport, North Adams and Brockton.

As a result of all this, eClinicalWorks has surged to the front of the cluttered crowd of medical records software companies. For example: During competitions — or "bake-offs" — at industry events, the company has consistently placed in the top three, according to Marc Holland, program director for Health Care Provider Research.

Given the growing market for such software, the company can only continue on that path, he noted.

Over the next three years, Holland expects an industry expansion rate of 8 to 10 percent. That will be especially pertinent among smaller practices; only about 10 percent have adopted medical records software thus far. eClinicalWorks is particularly strong with this set, he explained, due to its complete, competent and attractively-priced — $10,000 for the first physician and $5,000 for each additional doctor — product.

"They've done very well," said Holland. As the market consolidates, "they'll be one of the survivors."

But Navani doesn't just expect survival — he sees eClinicalWorks continuing to grow at a steady clip, despite uncertain economic times. However, as Wall Street persists with its dips and climbs in the coming months, the company will establish a cushion of support by further curbing discretionary expenses and closely following the market. "A smart company is always prudent," Navani noted. eClinicalWorks "was built to last a very long time. It's private, debt-free, profitable."

At its core, that comes down to customer relationships. The business established a firm foothold by first and foremost listening to clients, said Navani: Founders tailored the software to customers' needs and wants, a practice they maintain today with regular roundtables and surveys. "We shower our customers with a lot of attention and bend over backwards for them," explained Navani. As a result, they're always building up their quiver — and that's without any significant sales and marketing efforts.

But at the same time, there would be no customers without a quality product, he said. Ultimately, eClinicalWorks' software remains high caliber because the company doesn't overburden itself with several products, said Navani — their main focus is directed to one system. This allows them to continually streamline; recently, that included integrating a patient portal enabling people to update their records at the doctor's office or from home.

In addition, eClinicalWorks runs day-to-day with a small-company brain: Employees split into small teams and management is extremely frugal. The company has similarly maintained autonomy, flexibility and a solid grounding by remaining private.

In describing this intimate philosophy, Navani made an analogy with the universe: Humans look at the solar system as a small section of the vast unknown of outer space. "Small teams make up our universe," he asserted. And ultimately, "We're enjoying what we're doing."

Taryn Plumb is a freelance writer based in Worcester.

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